BY ELLIE LONGMAN-ROOD, North America Editor
Politics in the United States is constantly changing. This is a statement that is incredibly hard to deny. It seems as though every day brings a brand new story that, through the courtesy of 21st-century technology, is delivered straight into our hands in the form of a beeping notification. Last month was certainly no exception as renowned actress Cynthia Nixon announced she would be running for New York City Governor in the upcoming U.S midterms. And thus with the send of a tweet a new player joined the stage of American politics.
It was the same old Washington plot. After months of laughing off rumours that she would challenge the sitting Governor, Andrew Cuomo, on the 19th of March, the hypothetical became reality. One of such occasions was on a “Today” show interview back in August last year. After briefly discussing her current project “The only living boy in New York” the conversation quickly took a turn to address chatter that Nixon may be heading toward a career change. “I’ve heard those rumours. I’ve heard them. I’ve read them” she smiled without directly responding to them. Yet, what followed next left little doubt that she would indeed be running for Governor when the time came. “I think there are a lot of people who would like me to run and I think for a variety of reasons, but I think the number one is education”.
Education. The reoccurring silver bullet in American politics. An arguably noble and incredibly personable reason for a new face to enter politics. And perhaps with good reason. As Nixon eloquently explained, there is a problem with the American education system. A problem that Americans are all too familiar with at the moment; division. The gap between America’s richest and poorest school’s spending per pupil has reached an all-time high of $10,000, and with New York being 49th for funding in the country, it was easy to understand Nixon’s frustration she showed in the interview. While calling it a simple solution would be a mistake, education may well be the keystone the country needs to begin to reunite the ever-growing divide between the right and the left.
The most recent polls have Nixon behind Cuomo at 27% of the vote share to 58%. However, these numbers tell a different story than first meets the eye, if you look a little closer. In just over a month Nixon has gained 16 percentage points; a huge gain on Cuomo that should not be overlooked. This all comes at a bad time for the Governor as his ratings are down to 49%, a low point he has not dropped to since the summer of 2015. So, why are people beginning to back Nixon? She would be a refreshing change for the State as the first female and LGBT Governor New York has ever had. An article in Vogue suggests women are backing her “I don’t wish to apologise for my success” attitude from her character “Miranda” from the long-running show “Sex and the City”. Arguably, she also has some refreshing policy ideas for the State, especially for education and women’s health care. It is clear to see these are areas she speaks passionately about when looking at her history of activism in the U.S. Whatever the cause, Nixon’s campaign for Governor is certainly gaining rapid momentum.
On the other side of the coin, what does Nixon’s growing support base mean for the Republicans in the fast-approaching midterms? Historically, Democrats have always held an advantage in the area with a more than 2:1 edge in registered voters. In fact, 2002 was the last time a Republican, Governor George E. Pataki, won a statewide race. Therefore, the race for Governor in New York has never been one to grab too much of the Republicans party attention. But what is really interesting is that many Republicans seem to be welcoming Nixon into the race. State Senator, John A. DeFrancisco, commented on this explaining how, if both sides of the political spectrum are supporting a new player maybe it really is time for a change. Arguably, any cynic would ask if this support for Nixon has hidden intentions. If, perhaps, they see this new face as a less threatening force than the current Governor, Andrew Cuomo. Either way, however, this paints a worrying picture for him.
There is a wider issue at play here. Cynthia Nixon announcing she was running for Governor is the recent example in the latest trend in American politics; celebrities or experts of other fields running for public office. When Barack Obama left the White House, there were rumours flying around that First Lady, Michelle Obama, was not quite finished with public office. Generally, these rumours seemed to gain a huge deal of support. In fact, every now and then there was glimpses of merchandise with “Michelle 2020” printed on it. Since then, she has laughed off such discussions. Similar rumours also floated around Oprah Winfrey entering the realm of American politics. While these two qualified women may well be excellent if they ever held official roles in public office; we have to be careful not to be overly hypercritical. After all, if we journey back to early 2016, many of the early criticisms of Donald Trump was that he could never be President because he was not a political expert. Arguably, some thought this was part of his “charm”, but there were many who had their reservations. Essentially, if we held Trump to this criticism when he began to run, we have to hold Democrats who may not be the most be the politically experienced to the same standard.
Whether Cynthia Nixon will indeed emerge as New York Governor in November will become clearer as the campaigns progress. After all, in a country like the US, where politics is incredibly fast-paced and ever-changing, it is very early doors for the race. What is important, however, is that if one gets behind Nixon, that they do it for the right reasons. Not to spite Cuomo, nor if they loved her as an actress but instead because she would do the best job for the constituents of New York.